Holly Holm’s return highlights UFC Vegas 55

May 19—One of the most impressive things about the Ultimate Fighting Championship is that the company delivers action packed cards every week for 44 weeks out of the year.

Last weekend’s UFC Vegas 54 card did not disappoint. In the fight of the night, Kaitlyn Chookagian withstood Amanda Ribas’ early successful takedown attempts, and used her precise striking to earn her fourth consecutive victory in the Flyweight division.

In the main event, Jan Blachowicz climbed back into the Light Heavyweight title picture courtesy of a TKO victory versus Alexsandar Rakic. Early in fight, Rakic ​​was very versatile in his striking approach, opening up a cut over Blachowicz’s right eye. Rakic ​​also effectively used his wrestling, scoring a takedown in the first round. As the fight progressed, Rakic ​​slowed down his frenetic pace as his left leg was peppered with a steady diet of calf kicks from Blachowicz. Unfortunately, in the third round, Rakic ​​reaggravated a right knee injury that the Austrian first sustained in camp. Due to a torn ACL in his right knee, Rakic ​​suffered a loss and was unable to continue.

This Saturday, May 21 the UFC closes out its May schedule as Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm returns to the octagon after a two-year layoff in UFC Vegas 55. The long drought in the octagon for Holm stems from a slew of injuries, including a kidney issue and a knee injury. Despite the setbacks, Holm still clings to her No. 2 ranking in the women’s Bantamweight division, entering the octagon for a top-five matchup versus No. 5 Ketlen Viera.

Throughout her career, Holm, 40, has been a pioneer for women’s combat sports. First in boxing, Holm captured titles in three different weight classes. The international boxing Hall of Famer amassed a sensational 33 – 2-3 record. In November 2015, at UFC 193, Holm put the MMA world on notice when she defeated Ronda Rousey with a vicious head kick, becoming the UFC women’s Bantamweight champion. Along the way, Holm has put together quite a résumé, fighting the best of the best in women’s mixed martial arts history including Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes. Ironically, Ketlen Viera also has earned a win over Miesha Tate in her last octagon appearance in November 2021. In search of her 13th MMA victory look for Vieira to try to get the fight to the floor as soon as possible using her 46 percent takedown accuracy , as well as her submission game to avoid Holm’s striking prowess. The veteran Holm, should be able to use her jab, kicks and excellent footwork to keep Viera out of striking distance. The striker versus grappler matchups in the octagon like the one we have in Saturday’s main event are always intriguing.

Saturday’s co-main event features one of the UFC’s toughest Welterweights, No. 14-ranked Santiago “The Argentine Dagger” Ponzinibbo taking on highly touted Brazilian prospect Michel Pereira. Since coming back from a near two-year bout with a career threatening staph infection in January 2021, Ponzinibbo has posted a 1-2 record. The 35-year-old boasts an impressive 28-5 Record with wins over UFC veterans Neil Magny and Sean Strickland. Over the course of his career, Ponzinibbo has shown the ability to be diverse in his attack. In his 28 MMA victories, Ponzinibbo has posted 15 victories by knockout and seven submission victories.

Pereira is an excellent striker in his own right, with 10 knockouts in 27 victories overall. The Brazilian Pereira enters Saturday’s co-main event on a tear, riding an impressive four-fight win streak including wins over fan favorites Khaos Williams and Niko Price. Expect this fight to be an absolute war as both men land nearly five significant strikes per minute.

Also on the main card, a Middleweight clash between Dana White’s Contender Series alumni, Chidi Njokuani and Dusko Todorvic transpires. Njokuani, much like his brother Anthony who was a star in the WEC, possesses thunderous knockout power. Chidi made waves in his debut with a knockout of UFC veteran Marc-Andre Barriault in just 16 seconds. Njokuani enters the octagon Saturday night on a three-fight win streak. His opponent, Todorivic on the other hand is struggling to find consistency in the 185-pound weight class. After starting his career 9-0, the Serbian has posted a 2-2 record. Todorivic will look to take advantage of the positive momentum he built in his last octagon appearance scoring a devastating knockout of the recently cut, Maki “Coconut Bombs” Pitolo in December 2021. This Middleweight clash will be an entertaining striking battle.

Continuing at Middleweight, 2009 national champion Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders looks to put his disappointing performance versus Andre Muniz at UFC 269 in December 2021 behind him moving into 2022. Anders faces a tough test in the form of Junyong “The Iron Turtle” Park. The prelims also feature some exciting fights. In the Middleweight division, Joseph Holmes looks to capture his first UFC win facing Allen Amedovski. At Featherweight, 22-year-old fan favorite Chase “The Dream” Hooper looks to get back in the win column against fellow top prospect 28-year-old Brazilian Felipe Colares. In the featured prelim, Brazilian Jailton Almeida makes the move up to Heavyweight looking to halt Connecticut native Parker Porter’s three-fight win streak.

The 11-fight action packed card takes place inside the UFC Apex, beginning with the prelims at 4 pm and continues with the main card at 7 pm All the action can be found on ESPN Plus.

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